Effects of cross-linking on partitioning of nanoparticles into a polymer brush: Coarse-grained simulations test simple approximate theories. Academic Article uri icon


  • The effect of cohesive contacts or, equivalently, dynamical cross-linking on the equilibrium morphology of a polymer brush infiltrated by nanoparticles that are attracted to the polymer strands is studied for plane-grafted brushes using coarse-grained molecular dynamics and approximate statistical mechanical models. In particular, the Alexander-de Gennes (AdG) and Strong Stretching Theory (SST) mean-field theory (MFT) models are considered. It is found that for values of the MFT cross-link strength interaction parameter beyond a certain threshold, both AdG and SST models predict that the polymer brush will be in a compact state of nearly uniform density packed next to the grafting surface over a wide range of solution phase nanoparticle concentrations. Coarse grained molecular dynamics simulations confirm this prediction, for both small nanoparticles (nanoparticle volume = monomer volume) and large nanoparticles (nanoparticle volume = 27 monomer volume). Simulation results for these cross-linked systems are compared with analogous results for systems with no cross-linking. At the same solution phase nanoparticle concentration, strong cross-linking results in additional compression of the brush relative to the non-crosslinked analog and, at all but the lowest concentrations, to a lesser degree of infiltration by nanoparticles. For large nanoparticles, the monomer density profiles show clear oscillations moving outwards from the grafting surface, corresponding to a degree of layering of the absorbed nanoparticles in the brush as they pack against the grafting surface.

published proceedings

  • J Chem Phys

author list (cited authors)

  • Ozmaian, M., Jasnow, D., Eskandari Nasrabad, A., Zilman, A., & Coalson, R. D.

complete list of authors

  • Ozmaian, Masoumeh||Jasnow, David||Eskandari Nasrabad, Afshin||Zilman, Anton||Coalson, Rob D

publication date

  • January 2018